All about The Leader

5 08 2014

Atiya Achakulwisut at the Bangkok Post observes that “wondering whether the coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will take on another role as prime minister” hardly seems worth the effort. As she says, because he has almost total power, the decision is his.

She correctly states that the “real issue is not about who will become the next prime minister…. It is not about whether or not the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is too militarised, or who will get to sit in the reform council. It’s not even about what kind of legislation or reform plans these coup-installed bodies will come up with.”

She’s right. None of this is a real issue. The Leader can decide all. “The real issue,” she says, “is what kind of ‘democracy’ Gen Prayuth” wants. Will his democracy “be considered democracy at all.”

Her view is that we are able to look at the interim 2014 constitution and get a rough idea of what The Leader wants: “it appears the junta will use the highest law as a supporting structure for a model of ‘managed democracy’ that will suit what it perceives as a Thai cultural and political context.” She also calls it a “controlled democracy.”

This means that the junta “will restrict the ability of politicians to devise public policies and implement them as they have in the past.” Atiya adds that the military junta “is envisioning buffing up the bureaucratic system so it will serve as the driver of the country’s development agenda instead of the government.”

For anyone familiar with Thailand’s history, this is the model of “Premocracy.” Look back at General Prem Tinsulanonda’s time as unelected premier from 1980 to 1988. Elections were held, but mattered little. Politicians were treated with bureaucratic disdain and unelected Prem associates made all the important decisions (with palace support). Whatever it is called, it isn’t democracy.


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